New Delhi, Feb. 25: The Supreme Court today granted bail to Vijay Joshi — a close aide of incarcerated former chief minister Madhu Koda — in connection with a money laundering case in which two former ministers were also let out on bail just over two months ago.
A bench of Justices C.K. Prasad and V. Gopala Gowda granted the bail after additional solicitor-general Siddharth Luthra and counsel Ketan Chawla appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the court the agency had no objection, provided conditions faced by the two former ministers were also imposed on Joshi.
On December 13, a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai had granted bail to former ministers Anosh Ekka and Hari Narayan Rai for four months in connection with cases pending against them under Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The bench had said the trial court would convert the provisional bail into a regular bail subject to the duo’s conduct during the four-month period. The same condition has now been imposed on Joshi, managing director of Indo Asahi Glass Company, Ramgarh, and a confidante of Koda.
The Supreme Court had granted bail to Ekka and Rai considering the fact that they had been in jail for nearly 40 months (since August 17, 2009) while the maximum punishment they faced, if convicted, under the charges framed against them was seven years.
It had also directed the duo to appear for trial in Ranchi regularly, but restrained them from staying in the capital.
On April 18, 2011, the ED had charged Joshi, who is lodged at Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi, of siphoning off Rs169.92 crore from the state through forged companies.
The chargesheet filed by the ED before the special PMLA court in Ranchi said Joshi acted as a safe conduit to siphon off nearly Rs170 crore generated through bribes for facilitating contracts and leases relating to rural electrification and mining activities between 2005 and 2008.
The chargesheet added that while Joshi had invested a large chunk of money in his name, he had also floated a number of non-existent companies to facilitate investments in various residential and commercial properties at Mumbai, Delhi and other places.
The chargesheet pointed out that Joshi was on the board of directors of seven companies in which he invested varying sums.
On August 23, 2010, the PMLA court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against seven aides of Koda including Joshi and hawala operators Adinath Bastawade, Rohitash Krishnan and Ajay Amolchand Bafna in connection with the multi-crore money laundering scam.
Joshi was nabbed from Bowbazar in Calcutta on February 18, 2011. He was brought to Ranchi under heavy police escort on March 3, 2011, and produced before the PMLA court. He has been lodged at Birsa Munda jail since then.
So far, Ekka, Rai and Joshi have been fortunate to get bail.
On January 29, Koda, who is facing a series of corruption charges under PCA and PMLA, was denied bail by the apex court. It did not entertain his bail application following opposition from the Centre.
A bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi refused to grant bail, while allowing the ED 45 more days to complete trial and arguing that the accused could not be let off as he “can influence the witnesses”.
Koda had contended that he had spent over 40 months in jail since August 2009 and no purpose would be served by keeping him in prolonged incarceration. He was further willing to co-operate with the authorities in investigations.